A boy is writing a narrative on a computer.

A boy is writing a narrative on a computer.

Narrative skills appear to be fundamental for the development of other genres. For instance, Davies et al. (2004) showed that children with delayed language development typically have limited abilities to understand and tell stories. Other studies have shown that narrative intervention with repeated story tellings and focus on narrative macrostructure facilitate improvement in narrative micro- and macrostructure.

The aim of this study was to investigate what aspects of the narrative ability can be enhanced by language intervention. With the purpose of eventually increasing our knowledge on how to improve the story-telling skills of language impaired children, we designed an ABA-inspired intervention study that hopefully would improve the narrative skills for children with typical linguistic development.

Five 11-year-old children participated in the study. They were divided into 2 dyads, and one single participants (due to participant drop-out). The comparative data consists of 40 written narratives (8 texts/child), from 3 baseline tests (A), 3 tests during the intervention period (B), 1 post test (A) after three weeks, and 1 follow up-test (approx. after 3 months). The intervention period consisted of in total 12 meetings with a speech language therapist. Each meeting followed a training procedure (based on Åkerlund & Sahlén 2010), practising oral narrative, lexical knowledge, written narrative, and narrative meta-knowledge. Peer observation in the dyads comprised an essential part of the procedure.

We analysed: 1) length measures, i.e. number of words, clauses and t-units; 2) measures of syntactic complexity, i.e., clauses per t-unit; 3) lexical measures, i.e. lexical diversity and density; and 4) story-grammar (modified from Stein & Glenn 1979).

The findings showed an increased text length, a significant increase in story grammar points and a strong tendency of increased lexical diversity. Last but not least, the children in each dyad followed each other’s development of story grammar.

This study sheds lights on what parameters we can expect to affect during a narrative intervention training procedure. Although this is rewarding, it is nevertheless difficult to isolate the most effective part of the intervention method, something that a future, more controled intervention study will focus on.

Johansson, V., Åkerlund, V.,  van de Weijer, J. Sahlén, B. (2012) Improving narrative writing through peer observation and language training. Poster at 13th International conference of the EARLI Special Interest Group on Writing, University of Education, Porto, Portugal, July 11-13, 2012.

Sahlén, B., Åkerlund, V. & Johansson, V. 2010. Intervention för utveckling av muntligt och skriftligt berättande hos skolbarn med språkliga funktionshinder. Posterpresentation på Nationella konferensen i logopedi 18 – 19 november 2010

Johansson, V. & Sahlén, B. Skrivning och skrivintervention för barn med hörselskada. Nordisk konferens 2012. Barn med cochleaimplantat/hörselnedsättning. Är vi redo för nya perspektiv och insikter. Wallenbergs konferenscentrum, Göteborg, 1-2 oktober 2012.

Sahlén, B., Åkerlund, V. & Johansson, V. (2011) ”Berätta mer! Rapport från en fallstudie” i Logopednytt. Nr 1, 2011.